B.C. premierÂ’s proposal to export power to Alberta looks dead on arrival

TORONTO - - The horse-trading over oil pipelines appears to be moving to a new level with British Columbia Premier Christy Clark looking for a $1 billion federal handout to upgrade B.C. Hydro lines so it can bolster electricity exports to Alberta.

The pitch comes on the heels of the $1 billion federal bailout of Bombardier Inc. sought by the other top pipeline-bashing province, Quebec.

After squandering whatever goodwill she had with her next-door neighbour, ClarkÂ’s power line proposal is getting the Alberta brush-off it deserves.

Alberta energy minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd made it clear Friday Alberta wonÂ’t be buying power from B.

C. if it canÂ’t get its oil to the coast.

“We’ll do what’s best for Albertans and Alberta’s economy,” McCuaig-Boyd said in an emailed statement. “We won’t be buying more power if we can’t get our resources to market.”

Clark has been peddling the idea for a while and repeated it at federal provincial meetings in Vancouver this week to craft a national plan to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Alberta has promised to get off coal, finally,” Clark said last month, referring to the climate change policy implemented by Rachel Notley’s NDP government that includes the early phase out of coal-fired electricity. “We can help them with energy so they can find a way to shut those coal plants.”

It’s a marvel Clark doesn’t see why her scheme won’t fly — no matter how advantageous it might be for the environment or her political ambitions ahead of next year’s provincial election.

For one thing, Alberta has abundant clean power sources of its own – wind power, solar and cheap natural gas. They are largely produced in a deregulated market by private operators.

Under Clark, relations between the two provinces are so strained Albertans are not in the mood to support her latest pet project, which comes after her massive effort to start a liquefied natural gas industry remains in limbo.

ClarkÂ’s Liberal government has used every opportunity to poison the well, whether with AlbertaÂ’s former Tories or todayÂ’s NDP. It has opposed both Enbridge Inc.Â’s Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan Inc.Â’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion projects, while starting the trend of laying out conditions to change its position, including getting its share of benefits.

Her government has mocked Alberta in the depth of the harshest oil price collapse in a generation, pointing out in its throne speech last month that “Alberta lost its focus … They expected their resource boom never to end, failed to diversify their economy and lost control of government spending.”

ClarkÂ’s government is even blaming Albertans for driving up home prices by moving to B.C., or worsening B.C.Â’s homeless population.

The most important turnoff is that Clark hasnÂ’t demonstrated that spending $1 billion of federal taxpayer dollars so the provincially owned BC Hydro can upgrade the grid between the two provinces makes economic sense.


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